Memories Find Home Through Creative Writing, Performance

“Even if I’m not a professional writer . . . my story is worth telling as well.”

By Alden Herrera

Last Thursday evening, the Smart Museum’s bright red and white walls showcased more than just postwar existentialism. Visitors also indulged in painting activities, live performances, and chocolate fondue as Memoryhouse Magazine celebrated the release of its Winter 2016 issue.

Memoryhouse has been publishing three issues annually since January 2012. It runs by calendar year, making this issue the first of its fourth volume. According to senior print editor Isabelle Lim, Memoryhouse focuses on printing personal narratives, mostly prose. However, the magazine also features poetry, comics, photos, and experimental art.

When I asked what differentiates Memoryhouse from other campus literary publications, Lim explained, “our editors work with our writers a lot, and there’s a lot of back and forth. We want quality stories and quality narratives… but even if I’m not a professional writer, I can submit. My story is worth telling as well.”

“In some ways, every piece of creative writing is kind of creative nonfiction and tells you something about the writer, but to really take all of the pretense away and get to the heart of the story can be really powerful,” Editor-in-Chief Blaize Gervais said.

Gervais has observed a few changes since she joined Memoryhouse, especially concerning contributors. Memoryhouse is not, in fact, specific to the University of Chicago. Now, the publication welcomes submissions from all around the world, including Ukraine, South Africa, and China. Since she graduates this spring, Gervais looks forward to passing on the baton to Lim for the 2017 volume.

After a larger audience had trickled into the Smart, Gervais spoke briefly about the publication. She informed us that we would be given a tour of the Monster Roster exhibit, which features existentialist art in postwar Chicago. During the tour, three members of Memento, Memoryhouse’s performance ensemble, delivered spoken word that complemented pieces in the gallery. Themes ranged from war to the Greek myth of the Sphinx.

As the three performers spoke, they amplified the launch of their publication tenfold. More than just a launch party, Thursday’s event was a palpable celebration of personal narrative.

To submit your own work to Memoryhouse, visit The publication is currently accepting submissions until midnight, March 11.